A forest bathing business offers guide services to clients who want to benefit from forest therapy – the practice of mindfulness in a natural setting, preferably in a forest. The term “forest bathing” is a translation of the Japanese “shinrin-yoku.” The practice of forest bathing developed in Japan but is now frequently employed in the US. The practice has been shown to lower blood pressure, stress hormones, and heart rates. A forest bathing business offers these benefits to clients by taking them through specific forest bathing practices in a natural setting.
Learn how to start your own Forest Bathing Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a forest bathing business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Forest Bathing Business
- Form your Forest Bathing Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Forest Bathing Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Forest Bathing Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Forest Bathing Business
- Get Forest Bathing Business Insurance
- Define your Forest Bathing Business Brand
- Create your Forest Bathing Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your forest bathing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
What are the costs involved in opening a forest bathing business?
Opening your forest bathing business can be relatively affordable because you can do business out of your home. However, if you are not yet certified in forest therapy, you will need to go through a training program. Tuition for a six-month core training program at the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy (ANFT) is $2,995. After you complete the initial training program, you will need to go through a four-day immersion program, which costs $495.
What are the ongoing expenses for a forest bathing business?
The ongoing cost of operating a forest bathing business is minimal. You only need a phone and a laptop to communicate with clients and market your services. Depending on how often you are out on the trail, you will need to replace your outdoor gear – but your work does not involve strenuous hiking, just walking on easy trails. Likely the biggest ongoing expense will be post-certification courses like the $495 four-day immersion courses offered by the ANFT.
Who is the target market?
The target market for a forest bathing business is anyone who can benefit from stress reduction and a focus on their general health. But, while anyone can probably benefit from your services, you will still want to hone in on a more niche market so you can gain traction at the beginning. You will have to decide who you think will be most interested in your business. Some possible target markets could be mental healthcare facilities, customers of outdoor stores, and business executives.
How does a forest bathing business make money?
A forest bathing business makes money by charging clients for guided forest bathing sessions. Some businesses will offer multiple types of sessions, including half-day, all-day, and even multi-day forest bathing experiences.
How much can you charge customers?
The cost of forest bathing varies depending on what organization is offering the service and depending on the length and complexity of the guided trips. One guide offers three-hour walks for $30 and a $199 all-day experience at a spa. Another company offers a 50-minute guided experience for $160.
How much profit can a forest bathing business make?
Forest bathing businesses are not typically big profit earners on their own. Of course, if your services become popular enough and you have a steady business, you could make more than most similar businesses do. As stated before, most forest bathing guides offer their services as a side gig or as one of several services, such as running an outdoor holiday retreat center.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Probably the most surefire way to increase your profits is to build a business that offers more than just forest bathing. For example, if you started an outdoor-oriented health retreat that offered massage, spa services, and forest bathing guided trips, you would be able to significantly increase your profits.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your forest bathing business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a forest bathing business
How you promote and market your forest bathing business will depend on which market you want to target. For example, if you want to target mental healthcare patients, you could benefit from connecting with therapists in your area. You might approach facilities and let them know you are offering your services if they are interested. If you want to target outdoor enthusiasts, you might post at bulletin boards in stores and join social media groups related to outdoor activities.
How to keep customers coming back
The best way to get customers to come back to your forest bathing business is to ensure they have a good experience and, ideally, get some positive results from their time with you. If you want to help clients get real results, it’s important to follow the guidelines laid out in your forest therapy training. The ANFT is a national organization that bases its methods and scope of practice on scientifically-backed research. If you follow the standard framework they teach you, your clients are more likely to get positive results.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is right for entrepreneurs who have a deep appreciation for forests and enjoy spending substantial amounts of time in them. Forest bathing guides come from a variety of backgrounds, but many have a background in counseling, healthcare, and other industries focused on helping others.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a forest bathing business?
A typical day in a forest bathing business begins with meeting clients at the beginning of a forest trail. After you explain the basic guidelines of a forest bathing session, you will take your clients on a slow walk through the forest. The walks are typically a short distance – a half-mile or less – and not physically demanding. The goal is to get your clients into a natural environment and help them to gently focus on the environment around them. At the end of the session, you will guide your clients out and do a final recap before parting ways.
When you are not guiding clients, you will be answering inquiries from potential clients, handling billing and bookkeeping, and establishing working relationships with those responsible for the land you use – such as landowners or foundations.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful forest bathing business?
Compassion and patience are two qualities that can help you improve as a forest bathing guide. Clients can struggle when first introduced to the practice, and it’s your job to carefully keep them on track. It’s also important to train yourself in the practice of forest bathing by taking a course and getting your certification. Forest bathing has been carefully developed over the decades into a refined practice, and your clients will get the most benefit if you practice as directed.
What is the growth potential for a forest bathing business?
While forest bathing is becoming more well-known, thus far it has not become a “hot” type of therapy. Forest bathing on its own may not be guaranteed to become a major profit producer, but the complementary and alternative medicine market overall is growing. In 2020, the global market was valued at over $82 billion and predicted to grow substantially in the coming years.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a forest bathing business?
Like all health-promoting businesses, improving your ability to help clients is only part of the equation for a successful business. You certainly want to steadily improve your guiding skills – but you also need to pay attention to the business side of your startup. Write a business plan so you can start out knowing how you plan to make money and what your costs will be. Keep up with bookkeeping to ensure your business is on the path to profitability. It may be helpful to take some small business classes in addition to your forest therapy classes.
How and when to build a team
Most forest bathing businesses are operated by individual entrepreneurs and are small – many times they are not the primary source of income for the owner. However, it is possible that your business could grow into something larger – just like the ANFT did. Or, you may choose to offer other complementary therapies either alone or by teaming up with others.
As a general rule, if you cannot do everything yourself, you probably shouldn’t be. If you have enough clients that you cannot keep up with answering potential client inquiries, you may need an administrative assistant. If you want to build a treatment center that offers other therapies, you may want to recruit other practitioners to join in your work.